The Current State of Publishing and Bookselling, Part 4
AMAZON, THE 900 POUND GORILLA
Some writers see Amazon as the writer's and reader's friend, but, increasingly, Amazon is showing its ugly profit-is-everything nature.
The used book shown with the new book in search results is one example of this. Amazon makes more profit by acting as middleman for used booksellers than it does by selling new books.
Amazon's current attempt to force publishers to use their POD provider is an even more frightening example of its methods.
In recent years, as bookstores have carried fewer books from big publishers and almost none of the small publishers, Amazon has been seen as the even playing field by many writers and publishers. If you had a book to sell, Amazon was there to sell it.
A few years back, Amazon made it much harder for small press to sell on Amazon, and some publishers went out of business.
Now, Amazon is tightening their grip on the smaller publishers by telling them they have to use Amazon-owned Booksurge for POD.
Amazon's contract says that Amazon will control the price of the book sold, its price cannot be lowered at any other venue including the publisher's site, and it will control the look of the book and its quality.
For the right to have a "buy now" on their books, publishers will be at the whim of Amazon in most aspects of their product.
With Amazon moving aggressively into epublishing with the Kindle, publishers may lose all control of their product if they knuckle under to these tactics.
Amazon justifies all this as a means to make it simpler for them to ship books all at once, but they don't say that POD books printed through Ingram's Lightning Source and other POD providers are shipped the same day with the Amazon label attached so the buyer can't tell who has printed it or shipped it.
For complete details on this situation and the class action lawsuit by some small publishers against Amazon, go here http://antitrust.booklocker.com/
Only small press is the victim of this current Amazon contract stipulation right now, but, if the publishing industry doesn't stand firm against it, the Amazon gorilla will squash the rest of the publishing industry.
Now, on to my guesses on what all this means.